On paper, there's little doubt that the idea of combining Animal House and Camp Nowhere sounded like a good idea. Both films are entertaining, though the former obviously much more than the latter. Not too surprisingly, Accepted takes the scant mundane parts of Animal House and pastes them on the Camp Nowhere plot, and then decides to throw in a little Van Wilder for old time's sake. If you saw any of these films, expect an uneasy feeling of recycling.
Bartleby (Justin Long) is a clever high school student, but not specifically good at working. He can trick people and has an unnatural ability with words, but he can't get into a college to save his life. Several of his fellow friends and classmates are finding the same problem. After a failed plan to trick his parents, Bartleby decides that the only way to quell his parents' worries is to get an acceptance letter from a fake college. So, on a whim, he and a pack of ravenously creative friends set up a website, buy a space, remodel it, and make it look about as college-like as possible. It works for Bartleby's parents, but soon, hundreds of students are at the gates of the school, ready to learn.
What was just typed only exists in the first 20 to 30 minutes of the film. We haven't even gotten into Bartleby's best friend Sherman (Jonah Hill, a veritable tommy-gun of one-liners), who is trying to get into a frat (Flounder!) or Bartleby's yearning for schoolmate Monica (Blake Lively). There's a lot more, and somehow it all gets done in 88 minutes. Accepted seems to be just another piece of terminal proof that movies must be rushed and packed with plot instead of given time for actual structure and character. That's already forgiving the polite stab at ingenuity by naming the main character after the hero of Herman Mellville's classic short story.
Preaching the death of cinema aside, Accepted can't really be screamed about too much since its intentions are met for the most part. Jonah Hill steals nearly every scene he's in, and Lewis Black, marking his first real movie role, does a solid job playing the wacko fake dean of the school. Laughs come and go but none really stick out. Long, who is given the burden of carrying the film, has worked well as a supporting player (Dodgeball, Waiting) but here, given way too much time by himself, his charming-nerd persona lacks the bravado of elder statesmen like Vince Vaughn and Ryan Reynolds. Truth be told, there are worse films out there, but there are better ones too. It's just a matter of whether or not you want to remember your moviegoing experience or not.
School's out for summer!